|Khalid bin Walid (May Allaah be pleased with him)
Khalid bin Walid was a general. At Ohud, he fought on the side of the Quraish. It was he who turned the tide of that battle. Muslim victory was clearly in sight. Quraish leaders were on the run. Suddenly Khalid saw the pass at the back of the Muslim army undefended. At the head of a strong party, he dashed through the pass and took the army of Islam by surprise.
After the peace of Hudaibiya Khalid embraced Islam. His military talent soon began to outshine others. The Holy Prophet (Peace be Upon him)at once saw his worth and gave him the title of "Saif Allah" or "Allah's Sword." But it was not till Islam overleaped the boundaries of Arabia that the world saw Khalid's (ra) unequalled military talent.
Abu Bakr(ra) was quick to see Khalid's ability. So he put him in charge of the Iraqi campaign. Khalid (ra)'s exploits in this campaign have few equals in history. In about eleven months, he over-ran the whole of Iraq and brought it under the banner of Islam. He had no more than ten thousand men. With this small force he defeated hosts twenty times as big. These hosts had superior arms and equipment. But Khalid (ra) knew how to win with smaller numbers and inferior arms.
In Iraq Khalid (ra) fought fifteen battles in all. He won complete victory in all of them. He never allowed the standard of Islam to leave the battlefield until the enemy was completely beaten. Towards the later part of the campaign, Khalid (ra) became the dread of the enemy. The mere fact that Khalid (ra) commanded an army made the enemy tremble.
A Good Administrator
Khalid (ra) was not only a great conqueror but also a first-rate administrator. He saw to it that things were managed well in the cities and territories he conquered. He never marched on until this had been done. He left behind a deputy to look after things. He also appointed a judge to settle people's disputes.
Khalid (ra) was extremely kind hearded and just to the people. His army had strict orders not to do any harm to farmers and other civilians. "They are the real strength of society," he said. "They should always be treated with kindness and respect." This was something new for the conquered people. The Iranian and Byzantine officers had been very hard on them. Khalid (ra)'s treatment won their hearts. So much so that they came to hate their old masters.
Hard on the Enemy
Khalid (ra) was very hard on people who took up arms against Islam. He believed that such people should have only two choices. They should either give in or fight to death. If they fled from the battlefield, he would not let them go. He followed them wherever they went, until they either begged for mercy or were killed.
This policy of Khalid (ra) proved very sound. He dealt with the beaten enemy once and for all. He did not allow them to take up arms a second time. Muslim forces were too small to deal with repeated risings.
There is hardly another general in history who combines as many qualities as Khalid (ra). Khalid (ra) is unquestionable the greates general produces by Islam.
War with Byzantian
The need for military operations against Byzantium began to be felt in the life-time of the Holy Prophet(Peace be Upon him). So Abu Bakr(ra) was bound to do something about this danger. In the year 13 A.H., he prepared a big army and divided it into four battalions. Each battalion was put under a separate commander. Each of them was to strike at a different point on the Syrian border. Abu Obaida bin Jarrah was to march on Hims, Amr bin al-Aas on Palestine, Yazid bin Abi Sufyan on Damascus and Shurjil bin Hasna on Jordan.
These battalions were to strike at the enemy at once and the same time. The aim was to keep the enemy from hitting with full force on anyone of the battalions.
Before these armies left, Abu Bakr(ra) gave the following instructions to their commanders:
1. Always fear Allah. He knows what is in men's hearts.
2. Be kind to the men under you and treat them well.
3. Directions given should be brief. If too long, they are likely to be forgotten.
4. Improve your conduct first; others will improve when they see your example>
5. Honor the representatives of the enemy.
6. Keep your own arrangement a secret.
7. Be always truthful so you can get good advice.
8. At night when you are free, sit among your men. This will keep you in touch with them.
9. Make good arrangements for the watch and ward of the army.
10. Keep away from untruthful men. Be intimate with truthful and faithful companions.
11. Be sincere to all whom you have dealings.
12. Beward of cowardice and dishonesty.
13. You will come across people who have given up the world and are spending their days in place of worship. Leave such people alone.
The news of the Muslim invasion upset Emperor Heracleus. He was in Jerusalem at that time. He sought the advice of his nobles. He himself was in favor of coming to terms with the Muslims. "It is better to give up half of Syria," he said, "than lose the whole of it." To this the nobles did not agree.
So four huge armies were sent by the emperor to fight the Muslims. His own brother was leading one of the armies. Each army was several times more numerous than the Muslim army it had to fight. This made the Muslim commanders give thought to the matter. They met together for mutual counsel. One of them pinpointed the folly of fighting separately. "We will be crushed under the sheer weight of numbers," he said, "if we fight separately." The other generals saw the point. They agreed upon a plan to merge the four battalions into a single army. Thus, they thought, the Muslim army would stop looking too small in its own eyes. They informed the Caliph of their decision. He approved of it and sent the following written message:
"Muslims can never be defeated because of small numbers. But if their own sins overwhelm them, they will meet defeat. So let you all keep away from sins of all kinds."
The Battle of Yarmuk
Heraclius learnt that the four Muslim armies had merged into one. He also ordered a smiliar move. The four Byzantine armies combined to fomr a gigantic mass of men. They dug up trenches in the valley of Yarmuk. By the Caliph's orders the Muslim forces, too, took up position on the opposite side. For weeks the two armies lay facing each other. Neither of the two sides dared to touch on the fighting.
The Byzantine forces had every advantage on their side. In addition to numbers, they had the river in front and the mountains at their back. So the Muslim commanders requested the Caliph for reinforcements. HE at once wrote to Khalid (ra) to rush to Syria.
Khalid (ra) handed over the charge of affairs in Iraq to Muthanna bin Haritha. He then hastened to Syria at the head of ten thousand men. Despite all his haste, Khalid (ra) conquered many forts and cities on the way. At last he reached Yarmuk. Almost at the same time, the Byzantine army received a reinforcement. The brought their total strength to two hundred and forty thousand. The Muslim army numbered just thirty-six thousand.
Khalid (ra) Reorganizes the Army
Khalid (ra) at once saw that he must properly organize the army, in order to win. It meant a single command, in place of the four commands. So he called the other commanders and said, "We are fighting for the sake of the faith. We must all forget ourselves. We cannot afford to be split under many commanders. That would be a help to the enemy. Let there be just one commander, by turns if you please. If you agree to that let me be the commander for the first day of the battle."
All liked the plan. Khalid (ra) took the chief command. He divided the army into several sections. Each section was put under a commander. It was further subdivided into many troops, each with a leader. Abu Sufyan was appointed the fiery herald. He went about the army, speaking words of courage to men.
As the two armies stood facing each other, a Muslim soldier remarked. "How numerous the enemy is!" Khalid (ra) overheard the remark. "It is not the numbers that matter," he exlaimed, "it is rather the final outcome of the battle."
At long last the battle began. Khalid (ra) took some troops with him. He made a wild charge and was soon in the heart of enemy forces. He succeeded in driving a wedge between the enemy cavalry and infantry. The two were cut off from each other.
Fighting unto Death
Ikrama bin Abu Jahl was fighting at Yarmuk. Soon after the battle began, the Muslim troops began to real under the weight of numbers. Ikrama saw this. "Heretofore I fought all battles against the Apostle of Allah," he shouted out. "This is the first time I am fighting for the cause of Allah. In no casse will I turn my back on the battlefield. Now who are going to fight unto death with me?"
Saying this, Ikrama held out his hand to receive the pledge of others. His son, Amr, was the first go give the pledge. He was followed by four hundred more. Like wild cats, these men pounced upon the enemy hordes. They dealt such telling blows that the sea of man cleared before them. Their desperate attack caused confusion among enemy ranks.
Rout of the Enemy
Soon the enemy cavalry found itself walled between Khalid (ra)'s troops and the main Muslim army. Confusion spread and they fled. The Muslim army made was for them to flee.
Now Khalid (ra) fell on the enemy infrantry. THe shield of the cavalry being no more, the infantry was take by surprise. In utter confusion it fell back. But the mountain blocked the way. In despair men ran back to the river. Here a watery death awaited them. Most of the men had tied themselves with iron chains to rule out the possibility of flight. The chains proved traps of death. When a few of the men fell into the river, they also dragged their companions into the watery grave. According to one estimate, one hundred and twenty thousand of them were drowned in the river. The Byzantine rout was complete. The Muslims loss was three thousand killed.
Muslim women played a notable role in this battle. They formed a battalion which stood at the back of the army. They supplied water to the men. They also dressed their wounds. They shouted words of courage when the army showed signs of weakness. These words put a new heart into retreating men. They dashed forth like lightning and sowed death among enemy lines.
The Byzantine army at first forced the Muslims to fall back. Muslim women stood on a bridge. Khalid (ra) came to them and said, "O daughters of Islam, if anyone turns his back on the battlefield, kill him at once."
The women did what Khalid (ra) bade them to do. They stood at their post of duty. They had stones at their post of duty. They had stones in their hands and their eyes were fixed on the battlefield. If anyone fled for life, he was met by a shower of stones. Back he ran into the thick of battle and fought to the last.
Many Muslim soldiers had brought their families with them. The women stayed in tents at the back of the troops. Their words of courage for the brave and their taunts for the weak of heart, made a real difference in the tempo of fighting and in the outcome of the battle. Victory of Yarmuk was in no small measure due to the courage of Muslim women.
Two Great Martyrs
On the following morning Khalid (ra) took stock of his losses. Ikrama and his son, Amr, were brought to him. They were seriously wounded. Their condition was grave. Khalid(ra) put their heads on his lap. In a few minutes, the souls of both of them winged their way to heaven.
Ikrama was the son of Abu Jahl, the archenemy of Islam. When Mecca fell, Ikrama fled away for fear of life. But hearing that the Prophet <v:imagedata o:href="http://www.livingislam.org/o/durood.gif" src="file:///C:DOCUME~1ADMINI~1LOCALS~1Tempmsohtml1